The Three Gods
They are the beings which brought the eight species out of chaos and into civilization. They are the basis on which all of society is founded. Their battle shaped the world, altering it forevermore… these are the Three Gods.
No sentient knows the true reason they chose to appear on that day fifteen-hundred years ago, but the account of that brief visit has been passed down through generations. Each species has different stories of where the Gods came from, who they were, and where they disappeared to… these stories are collectively known as Godlore.
The worship of the Three Gods is called Sanshinto (Old Standard) or Tritheism (New Standard).
“Every sentient is taught the story at an early age. Ask any cub, pup, or kit old enough to speak, and they will tell you. It is the story of our world, how it rose from a state of violence and chaos to become the society we know today. They may tell you different names, or different motives, but at its heart, the story is always the same… and it always begins like this:
“Long ago, the world’s eight sentient species were locked in endless war with each other. So brutal, savage, and lengthy was this conflict that all recorded history prior to its beginning was irrevocably lost. All reasons for the fighting, any knowledge to who or what had started it or why, we now have no way of knowing. This tragedy came to be called the Species War. Countless numbers wept… the atrocities committed by every side during that era still haunt us all, even centuries removed from those dark days.
“The lore tells that the last battle was held on a spring morning. What was the spark that ignited into the inferno that followed? No one knows for certain… theories abound, but whatever vile action triggered it, it was enough to awaken something from deep within the earth… a monstrous being, an entity far beyond our understanding. Was it always there, waiting for the day it could reveal itself? Or was it called into existence by our long history of bloodshed? Again, no one knows…
“On that morning, it erupted from beneath us, vast enough to block out the sky, black as night and boiling with hatred… With pitiless eyes of white-hot flame, it looked down upon our multitudes and spoke in a voice that split the skies and cracked the earth: “You fools” it said, and every living creature heard its words and trembled, “This world with all its beauty and promise was given to you, and you have squandered it. You have stained the earth with blood and darkness for far too long. Now, your retribution is at hand. Heed my words, for I am DEATH, and all shall wither before me.”
The God of Death breathed, and all that its breath touched began to burn…”
“Everything blackened and turned to dust… our homes, our land, our loved ones, nothing was spared from the flames. The God of Death knew no remorse, no mercy, no pity. Young and old, healthy and infirm, criminal and innocent alike, all perished when it breathed upon them. The few that escaped its gaze swore that they heard it laugh, a cold laugh without any trace of mirth.
“When all seemed lost, when the last frightened survivors had all but resigned themselves to oblivion… that was the moment that twin pillars of light broke the ceiling of black clouds and smoke that had gathered over the world. From that heavenly radiance came two figures, one whose body burned hot and golden with the strength and boundless courage of a newborn star, the other with a silver glow, serene and gentle, slow to anger but terrible in her wrath. The survivors were struck dumb, terrified of these two and awed by them in equal measure.
“The two new Gods did battle with the Death God, and all creation trembled. The Gods commanded the elements between them, the land and sea and wind and fire coming to their aid, changing the shape of the world forevermore. Some say that the old world perished in that battle, and that only at its end did the world we know emerge.
“But end it did… the new Gods sealed the God of Death deep underground, placing a mountain atop it that would mark its prison forevermore, an immense, dead rock where no greenery would grow and no sentient would set foot. This is the place that we know today as Mount Fury.
“Finally, all was quiet. The heaving of the earth and the raging of the sea gave way to calm… and in that calm, the new Gods revealed their natures to the people below. The golden warrior was the God of Time, the relentless one that brings change to all things… and by his side, the silver Goddess of Life, from whom all things are born. They passed onto us a message: ‘The time for war is over. Now is the time to unify… go forth, grow strong, bring change and new life. And remember us, for one day all three of us will return.” The Goddess raised a mighty tree in the center of the world, a mark of that promise… and then they left, returning to the heavens once more. This was the birth of our civilization, the beginning of the Age of the Three Gods…”
[An excerpt from Godlore: Our Sacred Legacy and Foundations of Society, by Ash Caeruleus]
Squirrel Godlore tells that the God of Time is named the Shogun. Clad in red and white robes and carrying twin swords representing the past and future, the Shogun is the perfect warrior, the very embodiment of the Seven Virtues of the samurai. Artistic depictions show him with two familiars fighting by his side: one a great scarlet bird which is said to have risen from the burning wastelands of the island’s southern shores, and the other a white tiger, its stripes eternally shifting with the currents of the western wind and its claws made of gleaming steel. Some stories tell that these two Sacred Beasts sacrificed themselves to defend the Shogun during the great battle, their souls inhabiting the God’s twin swords. These swords are now said to allow the Shogun to watch over all of time by gazing into the reflections in the blades.
The squirrel Goddess of Life is known as Lady Terra (Tsuchi-megami-sama in Old Standard.) Her robes are white, blue, and silver, and she carries a mighty scepter made of rosewood. Lady Terra is the image of the female ideal just as the Shogun is that of the males… Everything that lives falls under her protection; her empathy and compassion is boundless and eternal. It is the reverence for Lady Terra that inspired the squirrels’ long-standing ban on the use of magic… they feel that only she should be able to manipulate the natural order. Lady Terra is sometimes depicted alongside her own Sacred Beasts: a mighty dragon from the forest and the eastern sea, and a massive tortoise from beyond the mountains to the north. Lady Terra is now said to be resting far beyond the sight of mortals, in a place called the Higher Plain (alternately, the Fields of Heaven). Here, she waits for the day when she and the other Gods will return…
The HellSerpent is the squirrels’ God of Death. Its name is a transliteration of its former Old Standard name, Abidokuja. It takes the form of a viper, darkest black with markings the color of fresh blood and eyes of white-hot fire. The Serpent’s venom is said to be the cause of all the world’s ills… it poisons and corrupts even the noblest of hearts. It sleeps deep underneath Mount Fury, biding its time, knowing that one day it will be strong enough to escape its prison. Interestingly, while the Shogun and Lady Terra are shown to be roughly the size of modern sentients, artistic depictions of the HellSerpent vary in size from tiny to gigantic… The explanation for this is that it feeds on hatred and discord, growing large in times of war and violence.
As told by Godlore scholar Cedar Deepclaw:
“It’s said our people were born from the roots of the trees in the great forests of this land, and like the trees, we grew to become the largest and strongest of all sentients. As such, our Code calls for us to protect the smaller species as the trees protect us.
“In the time of the Species War, when even the badgers fought with the other species, there were said to have grown three trees unlike any others. The first was tall and strong, growing in the eastern forests, and even when the fires of war set it ablaze, it would never fall. The second grew in solitude by the western sea. Its branches hung low, and water constantly formed from their tips, as if the tree were weeping from all the sorrows it had witnessed. The third grew in the northern mountains, and was said to be the most beautiful of all, but watching the horrors of the war turned its bark black, and its wood warped and twisted…
“On the Day of the Three Gods, known to my people as the Day of Awakening, the black tree split and gave birth to a badger whose fur was as black as soot… His eyes glinted cold, and he wielded fiery blades in his hands… This was Black Cypress, the God of Death. Driven mad by the horrors of war, Black Cypress slew guilty and innocent alike, the blades setting fire to whatever they touched. In his anger, Black Cypress even attacked the other two trees, his former friends… The forest tree began to burn, but still would not topple, and the ocean tree was protected by the sea itself, which rose up around it to quench the flame. Then, from the first tree rose Lord Alder, his stripes burning bright with the fire that Cypress had tried to use against him, his mighty fists clenched in righteous indignation. From the second tree came Madam Willow, her cheeks wet with tears… Upon her head was a crown of leaves, and with her hands she commanded the awesome might of the sea.
“Together the two fought valiantly to protect the people of the island from Cypress’s wrath. After a terrible battle, they forced Cypress onto his own blades, and drove him back into the black tree from whence he came, then buried the tree beneath Mount Fury… but their victory came at the cost of their own lives, for the blades Cypress wielded had wounded them both deeply. In their final moments, the Gods told us that the weapons Cypress had wielded were indeed fearsome, but they had also been his undoing. They implored us to live in harmony with all living things, and to forgive the poor Cypress, who had strayed from that path of harmony… With those last requests, the Gods departed from the mortal world.”
As told by Faun Muranaka, recorded by Rowan Longstripe:
“Well, of course our Godlore is different. We foxes are the best storytellers in the world, after all! Our Godlore doesn’t have any of that awful preaching and moralizing that the others do… I mean, what do you think we are? Badgers?
“So, our Goddess of Life appeared first, and her name was Inariko. And instead of descending from the clouds or coming out of trees or whatever, she lived among the foxes of the Earth as a mortal… and among the other, lesser species too. [pause] What?! That’s how the story goes, don’t look at me like that! In any case, Inariko was more beautiful than any vixen, with silver fur and six long tails. Whenever she passed by, flowers would grow behind her wherever she stepped. She would catch the attention of all the males, even from the other species, but Inariko was unhappy. She knew they all adored her, but none of those males had what she was looking for in a mate…
“And then one day at the end of winter, he came along… the most handsome todd to ever live. He called himself Nain, and he had a coat like white gold and nine tails, even more than Inariko. No one knows exactly where he came from, but Inariko knew from the moment she laid eyes on him that they were destined to be together. And one glance from Nain told her that he felt the same. So that began the most perfect, beautiful love that has ever been…
“For two weeks straight, the couple took to bed, enjoying each other’s perfect bodies, never tiring or… [pause] Stop giving me that look, dammit. Fine then, if I have to skip over the good parts… Anyway. So after the two weeks of mating, they finally emerged from their den, on the very day that spring began. From then on they spent all their time together. It was a happy time; everyone could gather around them and just spend hours watching them, and when they retired each night, life would seem a little more dull and gray than it would with them around. Their love for each affected every sentient being, some more than others…
“There was one todd who had always been alone. Sure, he was handsome enough, but he had been born with black fur. We foxes are superstitious, and to us black fur is a bad omen. So this lonely todd saw Inariko and fell in love with her. He nursed that love for months on end… and when Nain finally appeared, something in him broke. He was the one sentient that Inariko and Nain’s love couldn’t affect, because his heart had become twisted by jealousy. The lonely todd began to spread rumors among the people, saying that Nain and Inariko were planning to leave the world and never come back. And as the months went on and the mates spent more and more time inside their den, the rumors spread more and more quickly… Soon the foxes were arguing among themselves, and with the other species. The arguments turned to fights, and the fights turned to battles, and the battles turned to war…
“When Nain and Inariko emerged from their den after that winter, all of the world was in chaos. They quickly realized what had happened, and they tracked down the lonely todd and confronted him. Haughty as he could be, the todd didn’t care about the suffering his words had caused. In fact, he challenged Nain to a duel to the death, with the winner taking Inariko’s hand forever. Nain agreed, and they arranged to duel on the first day of spring…
“When the todd and Nain fought, their emotions were so intense that they even affected the world around them… the earth shook with each blow, and lightning split the sky. It seemed like the battle between them would never end, until Nain managed to claw the todd’s handsome face, and left horrible scars. In a rage, the Scarred One struck Nain to the ground. He was about to strike the final blow when Inariko stepped in front of Nain, shielding him with her own body… She told the todd that she would die rather than be his. Their loyalty to each other strengthened the couple, but it was like poison to the todd. The last bit of goodness in his heart died, as his fur turned black from head to tail. The earth swallowed him up, creating a mountain on that spot, and everything went quiet.
“Sadly, Nain and Inariko knew that as long as they remained among the people, another like the Scarred One might appear. So they bid farewell to their people and their home and disappeared, now full-fledged Gods. Just before they vanished, though, they told all of the world to remember the folly of the Scarred One, and to live with beauty and love for all creation. That’s how I was told the story, anyway.”
From the records of Vega of the WeaverPack:
“Before the Gods appeared, we roamed the lands without guidance or purpose, living only to survive. We took no notice of the heavens above us until that dark day when the Death God rose from the earth. Its form was vast and shapeless, stretching from horizon to horizon, turning the skies into an endless void of black. Eclipse looked upon us all and laughed, for without light, all things began to die.
“In that darkness two wolves stood, a male and female, each defying Eclipse. As they swore to protect their people, their fur became white as driven snow, standing out like torches and bringing hope to the fallen. The first was Orion, the great hunter, who carried a golden bow and burning arrows. And the second was Andromeda, she of boundless sight and beauty, holding a silver-tipped javelin. Side-by-side the two new Gods stood bravely as Eclipse tore open the Beneath to quell their light, but even against the legions of the dead they did not fall. They looked into the very heart of the darkness, Orion letting fly his arrows and Andromeda hurling her javelin. Their aim was swift and true, piercing through the void and sealing Eclipse away.
“However, the Gods knew their work was not done. In order to protect their people that they loved so dearly, they promised to watch over them forevermore. And so, Orion plucked out one eye and cast it upward, higher and higher until it became the sun. Andromeda was second. She gave both her eyes and cast them as well, her left becoming the moon and her right shattering into glittering shards like diamonds to form the stars. With that done, they wandered to the unknown lands in the north, far past the mountains.
“Their eyes watch us still from the heavens, guiding us from above. But Eclipse watches us as well, waiting for its chance to extinguish the light again… When the skies turn black and the stars disappear, it looks down upon us and smiles, knowing that its day of return will one day come.”
The rabbits look at all things, even the Gods, through a lens of discerning logic and concrete evidence. In their view, the Gods are not physical beings at all, but eternal forces called Caelestae (singular, Caelesta). Their names for the Gods are simply Time, Life, and Death, and rabbit Godlore has it that all three are unknowable, unfathomable, and unaffected by prayer or worship. At the end of the great Battle of the Gods, rather than a message of brotherhood and prosperity, the rabbits tell that the Caelestae spoke of the potential for sentientkind to someday exist without the need for guidance from divine beings, that within themselves the sentients could find the seeds for greatness.
The rabbits have done well in following this directive over the centuries… too well, some would argue. They have little patience for philosophy or abstract thinking, preferring to concern themselves to what can be verified and analyzed by research. For these reasons, rabbits can seem cold and arrogant to other species, and their beliefs clash deeply with the more spiritual badgers and squirrels in particular.
“Before anything else, before the world and before all existence, there was the Demon,” says the ferrets’ Godlore. Ferrum Obsidian, the Demon occupies a unique position in all the tales of the Gods: it is the only version of the Death God to exist long before the other two, and the only version not to be expressly evil. Obsidian is said to be near-incomprehensible to moral minds, a bringer of madness to the weak-minded. In art, its shape is depicted as a writhing, shapeless mass with thousands of limbs stretching in all directions from a central body. There are three distinct interpretations of this image, which has led to a minor schism among ferret culture. The first group thinks that the Demon is a massive ball of countless intertwined snakes, with individuals constantly trying to escape, while the second sees a spider with an infinite number of legs. A third believes that the Demon is some combination of spider and serpent, or at least that this is the closest mortal minds can perceive it The Demon is said to burrow its countless limbs/legs into the hearts of every living creature, creating all the world’s ills, and only the strongest can resist its call to madness and chaos. And yet, Ferrum is still seen as a necessary part of the world… every story of its destruction in ferret culture leads to an even worse calamity than before, as the balance of nature is upset without it.
The ferret gods of Time and Life are Aurum Ruby, the Magus and Argen Sapphire, the Druidess. As with Ferrum, their depictions are radically different from other species’. Tying in with the Demon preceding them, Aurum appears as a snake with endless coils and scales of gold encrusted with rubies. It is said to be a shorn-off part of the Demon that attained sentience and vowed to oppose its creator and return balance to the world. Argen is an immense spider with thirteen sapphire eyes representing the thirteen types of magic, and it is she who weaves the silvery threads of life that connect all living things.
The skunks’ matriarchal culture extends to even their Godlore; all three of their Gods are female. Even more interestingly, their Goddess of Life, Greatmother Rose, is usually held high above the other two, as the ultimate symbol of fertility and motherhood.
The story goes that Greatmother Rose, along with Crysanthemum, Goddess of Time, and Aconite, Goddess of Death, all desired the same male. Each wanted this nameless florin for themselves, but Rose believed that given time, the male would come to her of his own volition. The other two sought to claim this male in their own ways: Crysanthemum tried three times to use magic and trickery to win him, in her last attempt even resorting to a love potion, but when her actions were discovered she was chastised for it. Nevertheless, the male was flattered to be sought in such a way, and he and Crysanthemum remained friends even after he made his choice.
Aconite, however, committed the greatest crime known to skunk society in order to try to cleave the male to her side. Her feelings were not of love, but of carnal desire, and so consumed was she that she offered herself to him, becoming submissive to his will. Horrified, Greatmother Rose and Crysanthemum punished Aconite by infusing her with the most powerful of poisons, so that forevermore she would slowly kill whomever she touched. Paintings depict the cursed Aconite as wrapped in indigo silks, beautiful to behold but unable to love.
No one outside of the raccoons themselves knows of their Godlore, and of course the raccoons aren’t talking. Their obsession with secrecy is so absolute that not even the names of their God of Time and Goddess of Life are known to outsiders. The lone piece of Godlore that has escaped the raccoons’ territory concerns their God of Death, The Unmarked. Also called “Revealer of Secrets”, “The Foul Traitor”, and “The Betrayer”, he is a raccoon that has committed the ultimate crime of their kind: revealing his true name to the outside world. As punishment, he was stripped of all his markings, and is now said to wander the outside world in shame, never to return to his people.